Everything You Need to Know About Hatch Peppers
Written by Katie Workman
You may be new to hatch peppers, or you may be a full-on Hatch Head already! Hatch peppers are a seasonal and regional pepper with nothing less than a cult following in New Mexico, where they are grown. Hatch, New Mexico, is the chile capital of the world, according to Robert Schueller, resident produce guru here at Melissa’s produce. More peppers are grown per square acre in Hatch than anywhere in the world. Southwestern green peppers are grown all over Southern California, Texas, Arizona, and other places in New Mexico, and other types of peppers are grown all over the country, but they are not Hatch peppers.
Specifically, Hatch peppers are grown in the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico. The specific soil and growing conditions are what make Hatch peppers Hatch peppers. They are very fast growing, thanks to the wide temperature swing from the nights to the days – and that’s due to the high altitude of this area of New Mexico, which allows for these temperature fluctuations, unusual in other pepper growing areas.
Other New Mexico chile peppers are similar, but thanks to a 2012 law, they should be labeled New Mexican chiles, not Hatch chiles, or even further, labeled ‘Not Grown in New Mexico’ if applicable.
There are several varieties of Hatch peppers grown and sold: mild, medium, hot or extra hot. They can range on the Scoville scale from 2,000 SHU (Scoville heat units) to 8,000 SHU. The boxes or containers they are sold in should be labeled with the level of heat of the chiles. You won’t be able to tell how hot the pepper is from its appearance, so read that fine print! Their flavor is sometimes described as earthy or oniony, with smoky undertones, and again, the heat level varies.
Hatch pepper season typically begins in August and continues through mid-September. During this time, you can buy fresh Hatch peppers, and if you buy them in areas where a lot are sold and used (again, all over New Mexico and the surrounding areas), you will likely be buying them by the case. Hatch pepper fanatics are only too happy to bring home a case, either roasting them on-site where they buy them, or roasting them at home, and then freezing them. Look for peppers with smooth, glossy, firm skin: no wrinkling or dark spots or dings. The flesh should be fairly thick.
I’ve broken down everything you need to know about prepping Hatch peppers. Learn how to roast, peel and freeze them to savor the flavor year-round. Here are six simple and delicious recipes to try. You may just become a Hatch Head this year.
Hatch Chicken Chili
Spicy and flavorful, this chunky white chili features the inimitable taste of Hatch chile peppers. To up the Hatch flavor even more, try Melissa’s red or green Hatch chile powder.
View Hatch Chicken Chili Recipe
Hot Hatch Chili Dip
This wonderfully creamy and cheesy dip packs some heat thanks to roasted Hatch peppers. If you’ve been a diligent Hatch pepper fan, then you’ve laid in a supply of these peppers, already roasted, peeled and seeded, in your freezer. If you don’t have roasted peppers on hand, turn to Melissa’s pre-roasted Hatch peppers—available online beginning mid-August.
View Hot Hatch Chili Dip Recipe
Grilled Cheese with Roasted Peppers
A well-made grilled cheese sandwich is impossible to beat, but roasted peppers make it extra special. Any type of sweet or mild pepper will taste delicious, but roasted Hatch peppers take this sandwich to the next level.
View Grilled Cheese with Roasted Peppers Recipe
Sausage, Onions, and Pepper Sub Sandwiches
Here’s the sandwich we all gravitate towards at street fairs, state fairs and anywhere someone is selling them. I use jalapeno and red bell peppers but sub in medium-hot Hatch peppers for a flavor that hits it out of the park.
View Sausage, Onions and Pepper Sub Sandwiches Recipe
Spicy Black Bean and Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
At my table, enchiladas are a sure-fire kid pleaser, but I love them for a different reason. This is a recipe I make to use up leftover chicken. It’s saucy and cheesy with a little bit of kick. Control the heat by picking peppers that suit your family’s heat tolerance. This recipe features poblanos, but it’s equally (if not better) with roasted Hatch peppers.
View Spicy Black Bean and Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
Vegetable quesadillas are a very helpful addition to the weekday repertoire. A great way to use up leftover vegetables and super versatile. Appetizers, snacks, and—with a salad—dinner.
Throw in roasted Hatch peppers, and you’ve got yourself a meal with a distinctly Southwestern spin.
View Vegetable Quesadilla Recipe
And if you want to bring more Hatch into your world (beyond the short growing season, roasting, and freezing them), try these Melissa’s products: Hatch Popcorn, Hatch Salsa, Hatch Kettle Corn, Hatch Pepper Seasoning, Hatch BBQ Sauce, or go for it, and order the big Hatch Pepper Box, with all sorts of Hatch products.
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